MIDTOWN — An emotionally disturbed homeless man wanted for four unprovoked hammer attacks in Manhattan was shot by police Wednesday morning as he attacked a female NYPD officer with the tool near Port Authority Bus Terminal, officials said.
David Baril, 30, who suffers from paranoia and schizophrenia, was in stable condition at Bellevue Hospital after being struck in the arm and torso by police bullets at Eighth Avenue and West 37th Street about 10 a.m., Manhattan Chief of Detectives William Aubry said during a Midtown press conference after the attack.
Police Officer Lauren O'Rourke, 27, suffered cuts and bruises to her arms, torso and back after being hit in the head by Baril who swung the claw side of a white carpenter's hammer at her as she and her partner Officer Geraldo Casaigne, 36, followed him on the street.
Casaigne fired four shots at Baril, striking him twice, once in the arm and once in the torso.
"These officers acted professionally and heroically," NYPD Commissioner William Bratton said during the press conference. "He made a literal split-second decision to save her life," Bratton said of Casaigne.
Police believe he also attacked three women and a man in Manhattan Monday.
The two officers were on high alert to be on the lookout for Baril Wednesday morning, after the NYPD released his photo to the public.
O'Rourke and Casaigne had just checked in on a report of an assault at Eighth Avenue and West 38th Street when they spotted Baril wearing a camoflage mask and a hoodie, officials said during a press conference.
They trailed him as he walked south on Eighth Avenue, but at 37th Street, he whipped around, pulled out a hammer and started swinging at the O'Rouke, the chief said.
"He violently started swinging the hammer at the female officer. As he’s swinging, the female officer is backtracking into the intersection," Aubry said.
In surveillance video released by the NYPD, the attack unfolds in seconds; Baril is seen swinging as O'Rouke backs away.
"There was a guy with a hammer. He tried to hit the female officer. He was standing behind her and tried to hit her," said Maurice McFadden, 34, who saw the shooting unfold.
"He was just going after her like that. She was dodging, trying to avoid him," McFadden added.
In the intersection, O'Rourke tripped and fell, officials said.
"She wasn't screaming. She was holding her head. She seemed in shock," according to witness Xavier Ince, 31, a ventilation worker.
The officer's partner drew and fired four shots, hitting the attacker twice, officials said.
"[He] quite possibly saved his partner's life by shooting the suspect," Bratton said.
The male officer handcuffed the suspect as his partner stood up and kissed him on the cheek, witnesses said.
"She planted a kiss on the cheek of the other cop," said Rich Docherty, a freelance photographer who was in the area.
"It was a very tender moment," he added.
The two officers were taken to Bellevue as well, officials said. The female officer was treated for wounds to her head and back, officials said.
Baril, who has been arrested eight times, including a previous attack on an officer, voluntarily checked himself out of a mental health facility on the Upper West Side this past winter.
Investigators believe he initially hit a 20-year-old Brooklyn man over the head with a hammer in Herald Square near Sixth Avenue and West 35th Street about 1:30 p.m. Monday, police said. The victim told police that Baril approached him as he was talking to three woman, shouted profanities and struck him in the head, Aubry said.
He then attacked a 34-year-old woman in the head near East 27th Street and Madison Avenue about 5:10 p.m., police said.
Then about 7:36 p.m. he attacked a 28-year-old woman enjoying the warm weather in Union Square as she sat on a bench before attacking a 33-year-old woman outside 45 W. 17th St., near Sixth Avenue, ten minutes later, police said.
None of the victims suffered life-threatening injuries, officials said.
The Midtown attack on police came about eight months after a man bashed a group of rookie officers with a hatchet in Jamaica.
That attacker was shot and killed.